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Reading is a complex cognitive process of decoding symbols for the intention of deriving meaning (reading comprehension) and/or constructing meaning. Written information is received by the retina, processed by the primary visual cortex, and interpreted in Wernicke's area.

Reading is a means of language acquisition, of communication, and of sharing information and ideas.

Readers use a variety of reading strategies to assist with decoding (to translate symbols into sounds or visual representations of speech) and comprehension. Readers may use morpheme, semantics, syntax and context clues to identify the meaning of unknown words. Readers integrate the words they have read into their existing framework of knowledge or schema (schemata theory).

Other types of reading are not speech based writing systems, such as music notation or pictograms. The common link is the interpretation of symbols to extract the meaning from the visual notations.

Reading text is now an important way for the general population in many societies to access information and make meaning.
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